Investigations, Indictments, And The Political Future Of Donald Trump
The New Yorker's Susan Glasser talks investigations, indictments and the political future of Donald Trump.
Guest Host: Tom Gjelten
GOP frontrunner Donald Trump strengthened his lead yesterday in three of four states holding nomination contests. He scored strong wins in Michigan, Mississippi and Hawaii. Texas Senator Ted Cruz came out on top in Idaho. On the Democratic side Hillary Clinton won in Mississippi, but Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders was the winner in Michigan – an outcome that pollsters had not predicted. Yesterday’s results signal that white voters dissatisfied with the status quo are a driving force in within both parties. Democrats Clinton and Sanders debate tonight, and Republicans gear up for critical winner-take-all primary votes in Florida and Ohio next Tuesday. Please join us to discuss the 2016 race ahead.
MR. TOM GJELTENThanks for joining us. I'm Tom Gjelten of NPR sitting in for Diane Rehm. Donald Trump racked up three more victories yesterday, further strengthening his position ahead of winner-take-all votes in Florida and Ohio next week. On the Democratic side, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is strongly contesting the inevitability of Hillary Clinton getting her party's nomination. Clinton won in Mississippi, but Sanders scored a major upset in Michigan.
MR. TOM GJELTENJoining me to talk about the races in both parties, Stuart Rothenberg of the Rothenberg and Gonzales Political Report, Dante Chinni of The Wall Street Journal and Matea Gold of The Washington Post. Hello to all of you.
MS. MATEA GOLDGreat to be here.
MR. DANTE CHINNIHi.
MR. STUART ROTHENBERGHey.
GJELTENAnd by phone from Detroit, we have Caitlin Huey-Burns of Real Clear Politics. Hi, Caitlin.
MS. CAITLIN HUEY-BURNSHi, Tom. Thanks for having me.
GJELTENYou bet. Are you following the 2016 presidential race? You can join our conversation. Our number is 1-800-433-8850. Our email is email@example.com. You can also find us on Facebook or send us a tweet on Twitter. First of all, Stu, it seems to me every time we think we've got this race figured out, something happens that causes us to go back almost to the beginning, doesn't it?
ROTHENBERGRight. Somebody gives a speech or there's a debate or an election. And, no, I feel exactly like you do, like I'm on a rollercoaster here and I...
GJELTENAnd you're an expert on this.
ROTHENBERGWell, apparently, there are no experts or somebody -- there is an expert, but it's not me. But you're right. I've been doing this for 30, 35 years and I thought I understood the two parties and the process and how the dynamic of campaigns, but this has been a strange one. Continues to be strange.
GJELTENAnd it's, you know, polls get things wrong and pundits get things wrong, right?
ROTHENBERGRight. Well, the Michigan Democratic polls were horrible. They showed former Secretary Clinton with a double-digit lead in Michigan. There must have been 10, 15 of them in a row and, of course, she lost the state narrowly. And, you know, a few weeks ago, a few days ago, many of us thought that Marco Rubio was going to emerge as the alternative, the establishment alternative, and once the states moved north, he would begin to show some strength.
ROTHENBERGAnd he got shut out last night. So it's been remarkable.
GJELTENWell, it seems to me the headline from yesterday definitely has to be Bernie Sanders winning in Michigan. And Caitlin Huey-Burns, you were there. I know you're at the airport and you're going to have to go so we're going to just have you for a few minutes. But what was it like? Were you with the -- which side were you on last night or were you in your hotel room filing or what?
HUEY-BURNSWell, you know, unfortunately, most of the candidates had already moved on from Michigan onto their next state. Hillary Clinton went to Cleveland, Ohio, last night. John Kasich also went to Ohio and Donald Trump, of course, was in Miami. So I was left in Detroit by myself, but I had covered John Kasich over the past several days there and also attended the Democratic debate in Flint.
HUEY-BURNSAnd I have to tell you, I was very surprised, as most people were, about the Democratic results, but I also would point to, on the Republican side, Trump's victory in Michigan, while he didn't win all the delegates, was pretty decisive. John Kasich is, of course, a Midwestern governor, two-term governor of Ohio and was really looking to Michigan as a way to kind of help him reset this race.
HUEY-BURNSNow, he's selling his third place finish, you know, a couple of tenths of points behind Ted Cruz as a victory of sorts, you know, that he did manage to get some delegates and peel some away from Donald Trump, but I'm wondering how this figures for him heading back to Ohio on March 15, the winner-take-all primary, as you mentioned. Donald Trump, I think, showed that he does have a substantial appeal among those, you know, working class voters who are really frustrated and angry with the way things are going.
HUEY-BURNSAnd I think that will be really interesting to watch whether that will hold heading into Ohio and Illinois and some of the other states in the Midwest.
GJELTENWell, I did see that John Kasich won pretty decisively among late-deciding voters and, you know, we'll have to discuss what that means. But back to the Democrats. Were you in touch with the Clinton people last night? Do you have any sense of how shocked they were by what happened or, you know, did they have some kind of maybe internal polling or any indications that things weren't going to go as smoothly as they thought they might've?
HUEY-BURNSI think what's most indicative of how surprising last night's results were was the reaction from the Bernie Sanders campaign, actually. Sanders held his election night rally pretty early in the night and his campaign really did not expect to win that state. They were kind of managing expectations already. The event space, as I understood it, had cleared out and really hours later, the contest was decided. So that kind of goes to show how surprising this victory was.
HUEY-BURNSA lot of Clinton's supporters, they're talking about, you know, that the delegate count, of course, Hillary Clinton still managed to come away with the most delegates -- more delegates last night than Bernie Sanders did, given the way delegates are awarded proportionally in these Democratic contests. And so -- and, of course, super delegates are also an important part of that process, as well. But I do think they'll have to rethink their strategy heading into Illinois and Ohio, of course, on March 15 and really not take things like ground organization and structural advantages, built-in advantages from the Clinton administration before for granted.
GJELTENYou know, this might be a lame excuse, Caitlin, but I saw some Clinton people suggesting that there were Democrats who actually crossed over and voted for John Kasich as part of some kind of stop Trump movement because they thought that Hillary Clinton was such a safe bet in Michigan. Did you have any -- do you have any -- did you talk to any voters that, you know, that that might be backed up by?
HUEY-BURNSYeah. I think there was a little bit of that, although I do think -- and I did talk to voters at Kasich rallies and events over the past couple of days who were either, you know, supporting Democrats in the general, but, you know, wanted to stop Trump in the primary and also those who were just kind of scoping out the field a little bit. But I do think that overall, Sander's message particularly on trade was really key here. It's important to really underscore that point.
HUEY-BURNSI talked to a lot of voters on both sides who were, you know, really interested in Sanders and Trump's message on trade. And Kasich had tapped a little bit into that, too, but I think that's a big takeaway from the night as well.
GJELTENOkay, Caitlin Huey-Burns is a political reporter for Real Clear Politics. We caught her at the airport in Detroit just before she takes off for her next stop. Caitlin, thanks for joining us for a few minutes.
HUEY-BURNSThank you for having me. Great to be with you guys.
GJELTENOkay. So long. Matea Gold, you wanted to jump in here.
GOLDI just wanted to point out that this is obviously an incredibly unwelcome development for Hillary Clinton and not just because of what Michigan represents and because the polls got it wrong, but because this is the very moment she has been trying to start to subtly pivot toward the general election. We already have seen her inject sort of rhetoric about the need for loving kindness, making critiques of the Republican campaign.
GOLDBut Sanders is not letting her turn her focus away from the Democratic race. And there's several things going on. One of which is that his fundraising is through the roof. For both January and February, he significantly outraised her, which is a complete flip from 2015 when she was outraising him. Now, he's also spending money at an incredible pace to try to keep up with this huge battleship she built last year. But his donors, most of which are giving money in incredibly small increments, have shown the willingness to hit the click button on their website over and over and over again and continue to feed that campaign with the financial resources it needs to continue.
GOLDSo he's going to have the money to press on and now he has the wind at his back.
GJELTENDante, let's put these two victories in Michigan together, the Sanders victory and the Trump victory. You had a pretty prescient story in The Wall Street Journal this week about the rust belt vote. Are we talking about the same phenomenon here in any way behind the Sanders and Trump victories?
CHINNIThere was some talk last night that if you looked at the two maps, if you looked at the Sanders map and the Trump map, there was some overlap. To some extent, I think, that's true, but I do think that if you looked at, like, the I-75 corridor, which is, like, the kind of industrial corridor of Michigan, Hillary still won that. But the thing that really struck me about where Hillary won is every county she won, except a few far up north in the state, the African-American population was 9 percent or more.
CHINNISo she really is relying on the black vote, which does suggest to me that working class whites are really having a hard time coming to her and, of course, as we wrote earlier this week, a piece I wrote for Aaron Zitner in The Journal, there is a question about whether working class whites could really come to Donald Trump in the general or whether that is his strategy. Now, we're going to have to see. There are opposite effects to that, you know. Every action has a reaction and the question is, if you -- Trump in the way he approaches politics and the way he speaks, maybe that brings in working class whites, but alienates college-educated Republicans in suburban Detroit, Cleveland, Philadelphia.
CHINNIWe'll have to see. One other point, I think, is really important. Bernie Sanders is winning rural whites in the north. He just is. Look at the places he wins. He won everything in Michigan basically once you got north of really, I guess, Saginaw County, except for three counties way up north. It was all Bernie. And that's true when you look at the places he wins in Iowa, when you look at the places he wins in Minnesota. He is winning -- he is kind of, I think -- I wrote this last week in The Journal, but he has the makings of kind of a modern prairie populist.
CHINNIIt's not the prairie in Michigan, but it's some of the same kind of older white voters who feel as though they've been losing out in the new economy.
GJELTENWell, you know, you're talking about Bernie Sanders voters, but it seems to me you could also, to an extent, be talking about Trump voters. When you talk about, you know...
CHINNIThat's absolutely true. Absolutely true, yes.
GJELTEN...rural whites. Okay. Dante Chinni is the data and political reporter at The Wall Street Journal. He's also a contributor to NBC News. We're talking about the primary results and caucus results in four states yesterday. My other guests are Stuart Rothenberg, founding editor of the Rothenberg and Gonzales Political Report and Matea Gold from The Washington Post where she covers money and politics.
GJELTENI'm Tom Gjelten. We're going to take a short break right now and when we come back, we're going to continue this important discussion for all of you political junkies. Stay tuned.
GJELTENHello again, I'm Tom Gjelten from NPR. I'm sitting in for Diane Rehm this week, and we're talking about last night's election results in both the Democratic and Republican sides with Stuart Rothenberg, who is a contributor to Roll Call, in addition to being the founding editor of the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report, Dante Chinni, data and political reporter for the Wall Street Journal and Matea Gold, who is a reporter covering money and politics at The Washington Post.
GJELTENStu, Matea said before the break that maybe one of Hillary Clinton's mistakes was to turn her attention toward the general election too soon. Is that an assessment you would share?
ROTHENBERGOh, I'm not sure she said that. She said that Hillary Clinton wants to turn her attention to the general election. I think that's absolutely the case.
GJELTENBut we began to see some of that, though, didn't we?
ROTHENBERGWell no, I think of the -- oh, I think of the debate a couple of nights ago, Secretary Clinton went right at Bernie Sanders and on the nitty gritty, the details, the auto vote, the auto vote. So no, I don't think she has gone to the general election too quickly, I think that she just would really like to have this over and so she can kind of return to more comfortable rhetoric and language that unites Democrats.
ROTHENBERGShe really wants to talk about Donald Trump and the takeover of the -- either the extreme right or the outsiders in the Republican Party, and she's unable to do that. Remember, she's been through this once before. Almost eight years ago, she was the certain winner, and while I think the three of us probably think that she will certainly be the nominee, it has to be uncomfortable for her -- it's like a bad movie come back that she's watching a second time.
GJELTENAlmost certainly the nominee, you're saying that as definitively this morning as you would've yesterday morning?
ROTHENBERGI said almost, yes, oh yes, yeah. She actually won more delegates yesterday than Bernie Sanders.
GJELTENBut momentum must count for something.
ROTHENBERGIt counts for something in that it keeps Bernie Sanders, I think, in the race and continues to be a problem for her. I agree, she wants the race over, and to the extent that she has to constantly respond to his attacks, I think that puts her in an awkward position. But I don't think it changes the fundamental dynamic of the race.
GJELTENDo you agree, Dante?
CHINNIYeah, and I do think that in the long term, and I don't think the Clinton campaign wants to talk about the long term, they just want this thing to be over, but if we're talking about the long term, just what we were talking about before, that if the Bernie Sanders voters and the Trump voters look similar, there may be something for Hillary -- in the Clinton campaign figuring out how to reach these voters. I mean, maybe that's really what this has to become about for her, I need to get these voters with me if I'm going to get the nomination and run in the general, and maybe this is good experience for her, as much as she's probably hating it right now.
GJELTENNow Dante, we were talking about how Trump's populist appeal and Bernie Sanders' populist appeals tends to sort of focus in to a certain extent on the same electorate, but one big difference between the Democratic and Republican appeals to electorates is the Hispanic vote, right. I mean, there just doesn't seem to be any way that Trump can appeal to that base of voters, and that's -- that can be important.
CHINNIIt's hugely problematic. I also think he's going to have a real problem with African-American voters and, look, minority voters in general, despite the fact that he says all these groups love him. The data don't bear that out, at least not yet.
GJELTENMatea Gold, what do you read? I mean, Bernie Sanders made apparently some inroads, did better among minority voters in Michigan than people were expecting him to and that he has done in the past, right?
GOLDHe has been trying very hard to promote the idea that his candidacy is one that's aimed at everyone. He's had some missteps, referring to the ghetto, probably not a good movie. But his ad -- his campaign put out a really striking Spanish-language ad in the run-up to the most recent contest that I think made some -- got some attention in Hispanic and Latino communities. And I think, you know, there was an assumption going into last night that he was going to get decimated among African-American voters, and while in Mississippi she really clobbered him, there were really a large, I think a third of African-American voters voted for Sanders in Michigan.
GOLDSo we see a split geographically in which African-Americans in the North have -- are more likely to vote for Sanders, and that's something that could help him in the coming weeks.
GJELTENMatea, you might be interested in this email we got from Walter, who says, a big reason for Sanders' has to do with his online and volunteer activity. This has been completely overlooked. If you watch his rallies, try to imagine a parallel enthusiasm online. Then you'll understand.
GOLDYou know, this is something we saw, too, with the Obama campaign in 2008 and 2012, the Sanders campaign has built on that. They have sought in every way possible to harness this incredible energy that is coming from their supporters. It's something that Hillary Clinton's campaign has struggled to match. While there are -- you know, she has substantial support among Democrats, it's not driven by the same kind of fierce passion that's --- in a lot of cases, it's driving the Sanders supporters.
GOLDA lots of the Sanders supporters are new to politics. They're having that experience of their first campaign, and they're willing to really put their all, all their hours. I talked to supporters who say that they are up all night emailing each other, trying to figure out the next thing they can do to help him. So that is something that's going to sustain him for quite a bit of time.
ROTHENBERGTom, can I bring up another demographic category, since we're talking about groups and whether -- which candidate they're supporting? Yes, there is similarity in terms of the Trump message and the Sanders message, but when you look at age, the differences are startling. Trump's best demographic category of voters, 65 and older and to some extent 45 and older, and yet Bernie Sanders is doing great with younger voters. Among voters 18 to 29, he won 81 percent. But even among voters 18 to 44, Bernie Sanders won 67 percent while Hillary Clinton is winning older voters.
ROTHENBERGSo there is anger in both parties, there's concern with the establishment, but it's coming from, I think, from very different parts of the country and parts of each party.
GJELTENDo you have data there in front of you on union voters? I see you've got some exit poll data.
ROTHENBERGI would need a minute, so somebody better say something, and I'll look for it.
GJELTENMatea raises her hand.
GOLDI'll jump in to save you there. So on the younger-voter issue, one thing that I think would be fascinating in a Clinton-Trump general election is where do those younger voters go, and is she able to -- you know, if they're going to be turned off by Trump, are they going to stay home, or is she going to be able to rally them to her side?
CHINNIShe needs them. I mean, Obama had them, and she needs them, and I think last night going in, you had to think, when you looked at Michigan, where did Bernie -- if Bernie Sanders was going to win in Michigan, where did he have to win? He's got to win Ann Arbor, he's got win East Lansing, he's got to win Kalamazoo, he's got to win Mount Pleasant, he's got to win all the college towns. He won them by huge margins, huge margins, even Ingham County, which really surprised me because Michigan State is there, but so is Lansing, and general state capital voters are establishment voters. Still went for Bernie.
GJELTENStu, you went -- you found the union...
ROTHENBERGI did, I found the question, the exit poll question. Does anyone in your household belong to a labor union? And a third of the people -- a third of the Democrats said, two-thirds said no. That tells you something, how labor...
ROTHENBERGRight, and according to the exit poll, Clinton and Sanders ran about even with people who belong to labor unions, but among those who said they did not belong to labor unions, Sanders beat Clinton 53 to 46. Some of that probably is a function of age, where people who are 18 to 21 may not be in unions yet.
GJELTENLet's talk now a little bit more about the Republicans. Ted Cruz won in Idaho, and Matea Gold, he's got, I guess, of the three remaining non-Trump candidates on the Republican side, he's probably got the most standing to claim that he's the viable Trump alternative, right?
GOLDAnd there is an incredible push right now to consolidate support behind Cruz among his supporters, obviously, and I think Rubio is under a lot of pressure about what he's going to do. I mean, he faces this do-or-die contest in Florida next week. There are supporters who feel that he should drop out before Florida because they don't want to see his career tarnished by a big loss in that state. Other -- his campaign maintains they're going on to Florida. They are pledging to win that state.
GOLDBut Cruz is increasingly looking as the likely alternative to Trump, which is I think a very bitter pill for his -- a lot of his colleagues here in Washington to swallow, and my colleagues were writing some great pieces yesterday looking at sort of the sentiment on Capitol Hill among Republicans, who really do not have a lot of fondness for Senator Cruz and what they would do in this situation.
CHINNII mean, the two candidates left for the Republicans, if it ends up being Cruz and Trump, are arguably two of the worst possible candidates for a general election out of that huge field we had in the beginning. It's a pretty remarkable situation.
GJELTENWell, let's not write off John Kasich altogether. I mean, he came in a close third in Michigan, just behind Cruz, right, and as I mentioned earlier, I don't know if you've got these data in front of you, Stu, but I saw earlier exit poll data suggesting that John Kasich on the Republican side won the late-deciding voters category pretty decisively, which means that -- it seems to me that means that people are still interested in John Kasich and still considering his candidacy, Stu.
ROTHENBERGYes, it used to be Marco Rubio would win the late-deciding votes, and now it's John Kasich. The problem is early deciders were such a large chunk of the electorate in Michigan, and they went overwhelmingly for Donald Trump. And that is the problem. It is hard to peel people off of Donald Trump if they've already bought into him. They can rationalize and explain any attack, any criticism, any of his own behaviors, and so that's the problem. It's hard to pull people away from him.
CHINNII was just going to say really quickly, everybody talks about Trump's low ceiling, which may or may not be true, we'll find out more, but he has a very high floor. Those people are with him.
GOLDYeah, and I will point out, in states such as Florida, which has had an enormous number, I think something like 500,000 early ballots cast, that's going to be a huge advantage for him. People have already locked in their votes for him. Rubio did not put a lot of energy into an early-vote program. That could be a real challenge for him.
GOLDI do think we're seeing, at this late stage, some impact of this very last-ditch, anti-Trump effort. You are seeing that -- a real difference, right, in the polls between people who decided a week before they voted and the last week about whether they're going to Trump or not. But, you know, the steadfastness of his supports is remarkable.
GJELTENNow you cover money and politics, Matea. To the extent that what you just said is true, that there is sort of questions about Trump building, is that empirical evidence of the importance of money, or is it genuinely, you know, people sort of thinking about this and say, wait a minute?
GOLDThere's been a bit of a surround-sound effect of the criticisms of Trump that have sort of all come together in the last month. So I don't know that we can attribute it directly to the spending by these super-PACs, which so far have spent more than $27 million against him, the -- almost all of that really in the last two weeks. There's increasingly -- you know, Rubio led the charge against this, you know, coming out of the gate last month, and there's been increasingly robust attacks against him on all sides. So I think it's getting it in all places.
GOLDHe complained last night about the horrible lies that are following him on the airwaves everywhere but, you know, stated what I think is true, his supporters don't believe any of these attack ads.
GJELTENStu, that was really, yet again, quite a performance by Donald Trump. Not only has he turned his victory speeches into press conferences, but no he's turned them into infomercials.
ROTHENBERGRight, sales pitches. I'm constantly amazed and shocked when I watch -- when I watch the events, and I'm also shocked at the networks, or -- the cable networks stick with the entire event. Secretary Clinton was speaking, they ignore her.
ROTHENBERGThey ignored her, and they just stuck on Donald Trump. And I thought Trump actually started making an effort to be more subdued, more inclusive, but the more he talks, the more he gets wound up, the more he -- the more he loses it, frankly, and it becomes about Donald Trump and golf courses, but it doesn't seem to matter.
GJELTENStu Rothenberg is founding editor of the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report. I'm Tom Gjelten. You're listening to the Diane Rehm Show. Dante, your piece in the Wall Street Journal had a subhead somewhere along the way that was potential route to the White House for Donald Trump.
CHINNII mean, we've got to start thinking about that, right. I mean, if he's going to be the nominee, how would it happen for him to actually win? Is there a plausible way? And the plausible path that we postulated, not to use too many P's, is to say he's winning working-class whites in the middle of the Industrial Midwest.
CHINNINow look, Michigan we always talk about being a battleground state. It's not really. It consistently goes Democratic. Pennsylvania consistently goes Democratic. Ohio truly is a battleground state. So what if Trump could actually put these states into play? What if he put Michigan, Pennsylvania, really put Wisconsin into play and could win those places with white, working-class votes?
CHINNINow what we measured what is the white working-class population of every county in these states, and what is the turn, what's the turnout been, or what was the turnout in 2012. And when you do that, there is an argument, you know, Karl Rove always talks about there are these missing white voters who didn't show up in Ohio. When you look at the numbers this way, he may have something of an argument, this vote may exist.
CHINNIThe thing that struck me, looking at the numbers, is look, George W. Bush won in 2004 in part because he really got big turnout in the places he needed in Ohio, to win Ohio. And since then Karl Rove has been trying to figure out, or Republicans were trying to figure out, how do we get that back, how do we get that back. We did it with gay marriage in 2004. That was an issue that really brought out those voters.
CHINNISo that must mean we need Evangelicals on these places. Maybe, but maybe what's really happening is when you get to Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, what you really have is a bunch of older, white, working-class voters who aren't necessarily Evangelical. They turned out maybe on gay marriage because they opposed gay marriage for reasons other than religion, they just don't feel comfortable with it, and you just didn't have the right tool to get them focused. Maybe Trump is that tool. Maybe he can get these folks out to vote, and it could put those states in play.
GJELTENAnd some Evangelical leaders I've spoken to recently are beginning to think that Evangelical or even born-again is more of a cultural label than a religious label, which is...
CHINNII think that's true. And the other thing to keep in mind, when you look at this Evangelical vote in these states, if you do another breakdown on the exit poll data, I didn't have them last night, unlike Stu, who's got everything with -- he's got everything here with him.
GJELTENHe's paging through.
CHINNIBut the thing that struck me looking at previous states is that when you go to Evangelicals, Trump -- or Cruz wins upper-income Evangelicals. He wins the Evangelicals who have money. But if you look at Evangelicals who make less than $50,000 a year, Trump did very well with those voters, and he won them. That was behind his win in South Carolina.
GJELTENStu, have you -- yeah.
ROTHENBERGOne thing I noted on white born-against or Evangelicals, Trump and Cruz about split them. But when you looked at Evangelicals for whom religion was an important factor and the religious views of the candidates, it was a huge discrepancy. Those people went heavily for Cruz and not for Trump.
GJELTENSee, those are the true Evangelicals, right.
ROTHENBERGNot all Evangelicals are the same, exactly. So if you just look at the Evangelicals as a demographic variable, it doesn't look important because it doesn't split the electorate in particularly interesting ways.
CHINNIAnd in Michigan that's the western part of the state. That's where Cruz wins. Cruz wins Kent County, which means Grand Rapids. He wins Ottawa. He won those with actually pretty good margins because those are those Evangelicals, but there are other, quote-unquote, Evangelicals who look very different.
GJELTENMatea, if there -- if Trump and Sanders were the winning candidates, is it true that trade was the winning issue yesterday?
GOLDWell, trade is part and parcel of this larger sense of economic malaise, right, that they're both tapping into. I mean, clearly trade is a big piece of that in places like Michigan and other places. It's housing prices in other places. It's anger at Wall Street. I mean, they have both very successfully harnessed that fear and that sense of disenfranchisement that I think a lot of people did not realize was so substantial underneath the surface of the electorate.
GOLDAnd I would just add on a general election map, one thing that's going to be fascinating is whether on the flip side of the white vote, whether this sort of emerging American majority that the Democrats refer to, which is Latinos and African-Americans, young people and women, whether they continue to expand their turnout in the way that they did under President Obama. And I think that it'll be -- Hillary Clinton is definitely going to do everything she can, if she is the nominee, to get those people out. But whether they will turn out in the same numbers remains to be seen.
GJELTENMatea Gold, she's a reporter at the Washington Post, where she covers money and politics. My other two guests are Stuart Rothenberg from the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report, and Dante Chinni, who is the data and political reporter at the Wall Street Journal. He's also, you've got a lot of hats here, contributor to NBC News and director of the American Communities Project at Michigan State University. I'm Tom Gjelten. We're going to take a short break. Stay with us.
GJELTENHello again. I'm Tom Gjelten from NPR. I'm sitting in for Diane Rehm and we're talking about yesterday's election results in four states with Stuart Rothenberg from the Rothenberg and Gonzalez Political Report. Dante Chinni from the Wall Street Journal, Matea Gold from the Washington Post. Earlier we were joined by Caitlin Huey-Burns from RealClearPolitics. She's on a plane already by now. So, we were talking before the break about voter anger. I got news for you. All that voter anger is not only directed at the establishment or at Washington.
GJELTENIt's also directed at us in the news media and you in the pundit class, Stu. Of all the things that anger me about the Trump candidacy, the media's coverage of him is at the top of the list. He isn't the President yet. Why did the networks cover his press conference? Okay, so that has to do with Trump. Another email. The experts told us that Trump and Sanders were unelectable and that they would fade. Then they told us they would plateau. It could only go so far. Now they're telling us, at least for Sanders, it doesn't matter.
GJELTENClinton still has the delegates. Stop telling us who will win. We will tell you who will win. Good point. It's the voters who have the last word, isn't it Stu?
ROTHENBERGSure they do. I think we understand that. We know that. We're just trying to figure out where is the trajectory of the race going.
ROTHENBERGBut I heartily agree with some of this criticism. You know, I turn on the television and I watch these shows and anchors ask the candidates political analysis questions. They ask them questions about how are you going to win and where are you going to campaign? And I think they should be asking them about substantive public policy questions as well as how they are going to govern. Not what issues, but how they are going to deal with the opposition, with colleagues, with people who disagree with them. That would give us some information about how people would perform as President.
GJELTENDante, as someone who used to cover diplomacy and national security, it seems to be the missing issue, and certainly on the Democratic side. I mean, when was the last time we saw Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton debating a foreign policy issue?
CHINNIElections are so rarely about foreign policy. Unless something huge happens, they're about domestic policy and all the great things that every candidate's going to do when they get in the White House. Then they get there and they usually end up bogged down in something involving foreign policy. But that's just the way things go. It's just not -- I think it's something that -- I wonder how much voters are -- well, I will say voters, when you look at the data.
CHINNIThey're not terribly in tune with their -- I don't mean to criticize voters, but they don't -- they're not really well tuned into foreign policy. They're busy living their lives and domestic policy is front and center for them.
GOLDAnd to be fair, I'll just say the 2004 campaign was very different. That was all about the Iraq War, so this, I mean, there, this is the dominant concern and preoccupation of voters right now is their daily lives and their economic security.
ROTHENBERGAnd obviously, we could have a news event occur between now and November.
ROTHENBERGThat would change the entire focus of the campaign.
GJELTENWell, some of the Republican candidates have certainly made the Middle East and terrorism and ISIS major issues. It just seems that it hasn't been quite as pronounced on the Democratic side. I'd like to go now to Carl, who's on the line from Tennessee, Nashville, Tennessee. Hello Carl, you're on the Diane Rehm Show.
CARLHi. Excellent show today. You know, as a black American, and a Senator Sanders supporter, one of the things that incenses me the most and just gets me the most furious is when I hear reporters and pundits equate Donald Trump to Bernie Sanders, their supporters. And we couldn't be any more different. It infuriates me to no end, because Donald Trump has effectively shown the rest of America what black America has known for years about the Republican Party base. They are in inherently racist.
CARLHe's being rewarded by the racists. And unless Karl Rove and the Republican Party can find all the angry white voters, the angry blue collar voters in America, which is code for the racist Americans that support the Republican Party. Unless they can find all those people and make black people at a higher clip vote for Republicans, or get more than 25 percent of the Hispanics to vote for the Republican Party, good luck at ever winning the White House.
GJELTENOkay, Carl, that, I think that there are a couple of aspects to Trump's appeal. One is certainly this kind of nativism and rejection of minorities, if you want to call it that. But he also speaks to kind of, a lot of economic issues, populism, trade. And that is something that he shares with Senator Sanders, isn't it?
CARLI mean, absolutely not. I don't -- when I see a Senator Sanders rally, I don't get the feeling that I'm not invited as a black American.
CARLBut I damn sure get that feeling when I watch a Donald Trump rally. Stop using these code words, these blue collar, white, angry white voters. Call them what they are. They are the racist Republican base. And until journalists are honest with Americans, then we are going to continue to being ticked off at you all for giving this group a pass. You keep using these code words like natives and angry voters. You know what they are. You know who they are.
GJELTENOkay, well, I agree there have been some disturbing scenes at Trump rallies when protestors have been -- African American protestors have been handled very roughly indeed. Dante, you wanted to jump in.
CHINNIThere are two points that are -- I wrote this for NBC this week, there are two points that really jump out. Of all the states Donald Trump wins, that are truisms, every -- there are nine states that have voted so far on the Republican side where the unemployment rate is above the national average. And the African American population is above eight percent in the state. He's won every single one of those states. So, I don't know what you want to call that, but it's definitely in places that are, economically, not doing well.
CHINNIAnd where you've got a large African American population. Now -- larger -- now, those are not African Americans voting for Donald Trump. Those are whites living near African Americans, voting for Donald Trump. And that is, statistically, it's a really fascinating finding to me and it shows up everywhere. It's why Trump wins in Mississippi. It's why Trump wins in South Carolina. It's why he won all through the South and I think it's a little bit of why he won last night in Michigan.
GJELTENWe have a voter from Michigan, Joseph who's on the line from Jackson. Hello, Joseph.
JOSEPHHello, Tom. I want to tell you that I am with a room full of cynics and they have told me that you were talking about anger. They have told me you will cut me off before I'm even done speaking because I'm not saying exactly what you want to hear. And I tell them, I've been listening to "The Diane Rehm Show" for a long time. That's not going to happen.
GJELTENIt’s not going to happen.
JOSEPHAnd, it's not going to happen. And...
ROTHENBERGSmart beginning. Really smart way to get into this. Go ahead.
JOSEPHI -- and I want to encourage everyone to, just for a second, value that you live somewhere where no matter -- you can call in and talk. You can hear people disagree. That is something that is so easily taken for granted. I've seen other places where you don't want to even run against someone and then go out in public, so I think we have to -- there's a lot that can be improved, but we have to value what we do have. That being said, the...
GJELTENOkay, I'm not going to cut you off, but you've got to get to your point.
JOSEPHI'm getting there quick. I'm getting there quick. We were faced, I was faced with I'll take Kasich to block or Bernie to win. I went with Bernie. I'll tell you why. As long as he is discussing, he's actually mainstream talking that there's more ways to organize public resources -- he used the word socialism. He talks about looking out for society. That, I think, is something, that -- it's a positive sign that free thinking people can even have an opportunity to hear what he has to say.
JOSEPHBesides that, as far as Hillary goes, she's very quickly, as well as former President Clinton, have people very much think that there's a difference between Bush and Clinton, but I would encourage anyone that thinks that to look way back in our history and try and -- just look up Iran Contra, Reagan, Bush, Clinton. And the Mena, Arkansas airbase. That is something that no one wants to talk about and -- because that might get people thinking about what is this whole, what is this whole election business? What is it about?
JOSEPHAnd my cynical friends here, who, they're looking like they're reaching in their pockets because they're going to pay for this bet, they say that there's no room for us to investigate things. And they -- and now, here's where they do have some way. They say that the main purpose and the main function of our elections is to take that percent of our populous, because remember, it's not 80 percent of the Americans supported this person. It's 80 percent of the people who think voting is worth their time.
GJELTENOkay Joseph, you've raised a lot of, you've raised a lot of points here and I want to get the panelists to respond. One of the important things you say is that it's not just Hillary that is -- Hillary's record that is at stake here, it's also looking back at Bill Clinton's. Matea Gold, do you, to what extent is Hillary Clinton handicapped or helped by being Bill Clinton -- having been married to Bill Clinton.
GOLDWell look, this is an anti-establishment year. There's no question. And sort of embodiment of that was what happened the fate of Jeb Bush. Now obviously, Clinton has not faced the same kind of rough road that Jeb Bush did, but that has been something that's dogged her at every turn. And, you know, she actually tried, I think, a bit ham handedly at one point to argue that she's not a member of the establishment because she's a woman. And I heard from a lot of voters, especially young women, who said, you know, she is -- she's someone who's reached almost the pinnacle of political power in this country.
GOLDHow can she argue that she's sort of a disenfranchised person who's out of the system? So, there's no question that, you know, Bill Clinton has, there's enormous affection for him in the Democratic base, but the fact that he held the White House and she wants to hold the White House is also a real challenge for her.
GJELTENLet's go now to Brad, who's on the line from Ohio. Another swing state with a very important primary coming up. Hello Brad.
BRADHello. Thanks for taking my call.
BRADTom, I was highly offended at your broad statement, saying that Trump shows rejection of minorities.
BRADAnd I'm not a huge Trump fan, but I am a Republican and I will vote for him if he emerges to be the likely candidate that can beat Hillary. But also, your other guest offended me too when he said that -- he made a comment about Trump and Cruz being the worst two candidates that could have emerged from the Republican field. I find that offensive in that you're guest essentially, you know, questioned the will of the voters that have shown up to vote for Trump and Cruz.
GJELTENWell, I'm going to let Dante respond, but I think his point was, who would be the strongest candidate in the general election, which is more of an empirical, sort of, question than a normative question.
CHINNIYeah. I mean, absolutely. I'm talking about how he does in head to head polling. I mean, Trump, in particular, does very poorly. Head to head. Now, I know he's going to cite surveys here or there that show him beating Hillary Clinton, but on the whole, the numbers aren't very good for him against Hillary Clinton. And look, if you're talking about -- the NBC Wall Street Journal poll just came out yesterday. I don't know what people want to make of polls. But, you know, Hillary Clinton beats Trump soundly. Hillary Clinton edges Ted Cruz. And if you look at Marco Rubio, they're essentially -- they'd be tied.
GJELTENDante Chinni is a Data and Political Reporter at the Wall Street Journal. I'm Tom Gjelten. You're listening to The Diane Rehm Show. You know, that was something -- Trump said that again last night, Stu. He said, I'm beating Hillary Clinton in all the polls. I went on RealClearPolitics. I couldn't find a single one where he's beating her.
ROTHENBERGI know. No, there's a lot that's said during this campaign, during any campaign that's hard to verify, but in particular, there seem to be more and more outlandish statements that go unanswered and that people don't seem to care about.
GJELTENLet's go now to Maggie, who's on the line from Birmingham, Alabama. Hello, Maggie.
MAGGIEHey, how's it going?
MAGGIEI've got a question. My question is on the Democrat side, I've been hearing a lot about the super delegates and how they've pushed Hillary, you know, far ahead. But I haven't really heard anything about, you know, the loyalty of these super delegates to Trump on the GOP side. And I'm wondering just how, I mean, could they be a deciding factor because, like I said, I just haven't, I mean, the Bernie -- Clinton, you know, super delegate thing, I guess we've heard a lot about, but not so much for the GOP. I was just wondering what's going on with that.
GJELTENWell, Stu Rothenberg, I assume that the parties themselves make the rules for how their own super delegates vote.
ROTHENBERGRight. Maggie hasn't heard about Republican super delegates because there aren't Republican super delegates. The Democrats have all these category of people that attend the convention and they're free to decide who they want and they're current office holders. And party officials and the like. The Republicans have, kind of, three, not super delegates, but they have three technically unpledged delegates, the State Committeemen, Republican State Committeeman, Committeewoman and the State Party Chairman who go to the convention.
ROTHENBERGThey don't have to be elected, but the Republican rules, those people are pledged on the first ballot to go with the -- whichever candidate carried the state. After that, they're free and clear and they don't have any commitment. And their personal preferences might be very different than who they're supporting on the first ballot. But they don't have the hundreds of super delegates. And Maggie's right, I mean, Hillary Clinton appears to have, I don't know the exact number, maybe my colleagues here, it's around 450 super delegates.
ROTHENBERGAnd Sanders has a handful. So, it matters in the Democratic race. Now, those super delegates could change their opinion if the dynamic of the primaries change the entire Democratic race. And you could bet, at some point, Bernie Sanders would start to call into question the fairness of the super delegates. But right now, we're not there.
GJELTENWell, one of the things that we're always talking about on the Republican side is the prospect of a brokered convention. How exactly would that work? How many of those delegates are pledged to vote for one candidate or another and how much switching could there be at the last minute on the Republican side?
ROTHENBERGWell, I think all these primaries and caucuses are producing pledge delegates, as far as I know. There were a handful of delegations, Colorado and North Dakota, for example, which decided to send unpledged delegations, but I don't know if Dante and Matea have any other information on this, but I thought they were pledged, the first one.
GOLDNo, they are pledged, but, and the vast majority are, but the way that this would all unfurl in sort of a chaotic, unprecedented form is after the first vote of the pledge delegates, if a nominee is not selected, many of those delegates have then the freedom to switch their vote and they're no longer pledged.
GJELTENWe have time for one very quick phone call. Tanya, you're on the line from Ann Arbor, Michigan. Hello Tanya. I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you to make it quick.
TANYAOkay, so I'm an old African-American hippie from San Francisco. For the first time in my life, I voted Republican for Donald Trump.
TANYAPlease stop saying it's all old white voters. And the Republicans, start listening to what the people want, maybe they don't want somebody who's ultra-conservative. There are more people that are going over to the Republican side because of him. I don't think he's racist. He's not anti-Mexican. He's anti people coming here illegally from Mexico. And I’m not the only person that feels this way. I voted for him, my husband voted for Sanders. I like both of them.
GJELTENWow, okay. Tanya, thank you so much. That's actually a really valuable contribution to end this discussion on. Of course, one of the big issues for Donald Trump is immigration. And I know that there are a lot of African-Americans that feel like they have unfair competition from undocumented workers, in particular, coming in and taking low wage jobs from American workers. So, Tanya, thank you for including that contribution to our discussion. We have -- if we've learned one thing from this election, it's to be very careful about making generalizations.
GJELTENGeneralizations about who's going to win, generalizations about which groups are going for which candidates. I think that we have all learned some humility, those of us in the pundit and journalism category, population here. I'd like to thank my panelists, Stuart Rothenberg from the Rothenberg and Gonzalez Political Report. Dante Chinni from The Wall Street Journal, Matea Gold from the Washington Post. Earlier, Caitlin Huey-Burns from RealClearPolitics. Thanks to our listeners. I'm Tom Gjelten. This is The Diane Rehm Show.
The New Yorker's Susan Glasser talks investigations, indictments and the political future of Donald Trump.
A conversation from the archives with Barbara Walters about her 2008 memoir "Audition," a story of family challenges, celebrity gossip and blazing a trail in TV news.
A conversation from the archives with former President Jimmy Carter. In January 1993 he joined Diane in the studio for his first of twelve appearances on the Diane Rehm Show.
Foreign policy expert David Rothkopf on the war in Ukraine, relations with China and the challenges ahead for the Biden administration.
Commentscomments powered by Disqus